Explore places that have been shaped and coloured by volcanic and geothermal forces for thousands of years.

Watch boiling mud pools and feel the heat underfoot from landscapes that hiss with steam.

New Zealand straddles an active fault line where two giant pieces of the earth's surface are in a constant state of collision. In the South Island they meet and push upwards, creating the towering Southern Alps. In the central North Island, one piece is creeping slowly under the other, generating enormous amounts of active subterranean heat and volcanic activity.

This area centres around Rotorua, stretching south to the mountains of Tongariro National Park then east to Bay of Plenty’s White Island – an active and accessible volcano island.

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In and around Rotorua sneaky threads of steam drift upward from parks, river banks and drains. The unmistakeable scent of sulphur wafts through the air. Minutes from the city centre, geysers of boiling water roar from the ground and pools of bubbling mud gurgle and belch.

Walkways around Rotorua and Taupo offer easy access and good geothermal views. If you want to experience the thrill of a live volcano, tours can take you to the edge of a steaming crater.

Since the arrival of the first Maori settlers, people have harnessed this vast renewable energy source for cooking, heating and, more recently, electric power production. You'll discover that a relaxing soak in naturally heated water is the perfect end to a day of geothermal adventures.